Posted: 6:45 pm Sunday, March 1st, 2015
By Jamie Dupree
As the Congress on Friday night stumbled into a seven day extension of funding for the Department of Homeland Security, Republicans were once again fighting each other over the best GOP strategy to deal with the President’s executive actions on immigration, with little chance of approving any legislative solution.
House Speaker John Boehner had tried to get his GOP flock to accept a 3-week stop gap budget for the Department of Homeland Security, but that went down in flames as 52 Republicans broke ranks to oppose that measure.
“It was just messy,” Boehner acknowledged in a Sunday appearance on the CBS show “Face the Nation.”
But for more conservative Republicans, there was nothing messy about the internal fracas, as they want no spending bill approved until the Congress sends the President a bill to block his executive actions on immigration.
“We cannot let the President get away with unconstitutional activity,” said Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA).
“The key to this whole thing is convincing Democrats that the Constitution matters,” said Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), another of the 43 House Republicans who voted against both a one week and three week budget extension for homeland defense.
But that stance was denounced by other Republicans, who accused their GOP colleagues of having “no credible policy proposals and no political strategy” to stop the President’s immigration actions.
There's an element within our party, a wing within Congress, which is absolutely irresponsible. No concept of reality http://t.co/vyCtSGJOnk
— Rep. Pete King (@RepPeteKing) March 1, 2015
“While conservative leaders are trying to move the ball up the field, these other Members sit in exotic places like basements of Mexican restaurants and upper levels of House office buildings, seemingly unaware that they can’t advance conservatism by playing fantasy football with their voting cards,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
The shot by Nunes at members in “Mexican restaurants” was a direct jab at followers of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who have at times secretly met in a Capitol Hill watering hole to discuss legislative strategy – which often runs counter to that of Speaker Boehner and GOP leaders.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 28, 2015
Next step in immigration fight
What Republicans want to do now is have the House and Senate go into an official conference committee to negotiate differences over a long term funding measure for homeland defense – mainly over restrictions on the President’s immigration actions.
But as with almost everything in the Senate, you need 60 votes just to get over procedural hurdles to set up official House-Senate negotiations – and Democrats say they will filibuster that motion.
“We will not allow a conference to take place. It won’t happen,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said last week.
Democrats say they were assured on Friday that if they supported the one week funding extension for homeland defense, then there would be a vote this week on a full funding bill with no immigration restrictions from the GOP.
That is what many refer to as a “clean” funding bill – exactly what most Republicans say they don’t want.
The bitter truth for Republicans is that while they are in charge of both the House and Senate, they do not have the votes to approve a bill that blocks the President’s executive actions on immigration.
And without 60 votes in the Senate, they are limited in what they can do – and Democrats were more than happy to remind them of that:
#GOP dysfunction shows, once again, that to get anything significant done will require majority of Dem votes.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 28, 2015
The new funding deadline is this Friday night at midnight; will there be a repeat of last week’s drama?
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.